Calling Homosexuality a Sin is Hate Speech

Walter Rhein

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It is very disappointing to observe the behavior of American Christians. This group should be exemplary citizens that do their best to choose behavior that best exemplifies Christ’s example. Fundamental to this aspiration should be to treat all human beings with love and respect.

Instead, you often see American Christians frothing at the mouth and shouting phrases of hatred because they object to an individual’s sexual orientation.

The LGBTQ community finds themselves frequently maligned by religious groups even though progressive laws allow their community the same unalienable rights and freedoms as everybody else. Every consenting adult in the United States should be free to pursue happiness in any way they see fit. However, the constitutional rights of marginalized groups are frequently under assault by hostile, religious forces.

This behavior is not acceptable.

Hate speech

Hate speech is defined as follows:

“Public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence toward a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.”--Cambridge dictionary

So, when a preacher stands in front of a crowd of citizens and talks about the evils of homosexuality, he is engaging in hate speech. It’s public. It’s hateful. It encourages violence. Case closed.

It’s that simple. Declaring homosexuality to be a sin is hate speech. Don’t do it.

Hate speech leads to hate crimes

Engaging in hate speech can incite people to illegal acts which may include hate crimes. The FBI places a high priority on hate crimes because of their potential to undermine the fabric of our civilization.

For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” — FBI.gov

Keep in mind that discrimination is a criminal offense.

An example

Imagine a scenario where a frustrated individual seeks out spiritual guidance from a preacher. This person is dimly aware that his life is spiraling out of control. He’s got a bad job, no relationship, and no real prospect for improvement.

Aware that he needs help, this individual resolves to listen to a sermon in the hope of discovering a new pathway to get his life in order. But instead of illustrating the pathway of personal commitment an individual must take in order to improve their station, the preacher descends into a hateful rant against homosexuality.

Instead of learning anything useful, the frustrated individual shifts his focus away from his own shortcomings and becomes hyper focused on his disdain for homosexuality. Because of the preacher’s actions, he begins to unfairly assign blame for his own life’s failings onto the LGBTQ community. This growing hatred has an increased influence on his behavior until he finally engages in an act of violence.

Hate speech incites hate crimes.

Our religion is supposed to provide a good example

The whole point of religion is to strengthen the bonds of harmony within all humankind, not encourage discord or incite violence. Any statement whatsoever disparaging homosexuality is in flat contradiction to the ideals of the church.

In light of our increasingly divisive political situation, it’s important for institutions such as the church to be a guiding light toward civility. But you can count on them to dismiss this obligation in favor of continuing their message of disdain for certain legally protected lifestyles.

Even churches that are willing to conduct homosexual marriage ceremonies are reluctant to denounce the intolerance of other institutions. Our religious leaders need to denounce those who incite hatred against our fellow citizens by name. They must do so even at the risk of personal or professional consequence.

The sacrifice shouldn’t deter them, after all, aren’t they always telling us how much they admire the sacrifice Christ made?

The church should not be allowed to violate our laws

Some religious groups will try to argue that their indulgence in hate speech is protected by their right to freedom of religion. However, this is a fundamental and dishonest misinterpretation.

Your right to exercise your religion applies to you and your own personal choice. Freedom of religion does not mean you have a right to force other people to behave as you see fit.

Indeed, other people might follow completely different religions from you that embrace fundamentally contradictory beliefs. Finally, you aren’t allowed to follow the dictates of your religion when those dictates require you to break the laws of our nation. For example, you can’t sacrifice a virgin child to your god and claim that your murderous behavior is protected under freedom of religion.

Jesus never spoke against homosexuality

It’s also interesting to note that at no point in the Bible does Jesus Christ condemn homosexuality.

Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things — he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies. — Jimmy Carter

That anti-homosexual attitudes are such a foundational part of American Christianity serves as a sobering reminder as to how much our nation’s religious institutions have abandoned Christ’s teachings.

Christ speech is not hate speech

Our nation is guided by laws and we cannot have order in our society when we allow certain groups to routinely violate those laws. It’s unfortunate that so many church members feel they are entitled to work to erode the very fabric of our society.

Calling homosexuality a sin is an affront to your fellow citizens. It disparages the fundamental ideals of our country and ignores the teachings of Christ. It’s disgusting behavior without justification.

Religious groups do not have a right to sow the seeds of hatred within our communities. They should be working towards harmony, unity, and love. In the United States nobody is above the law, and our laws say you cannot discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation.

We can’t allow religion to erode our progress towards becoming a more caring, humanitarian, and better society .

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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